Poetry

Lily and the Rose, by William Cowper

THE NYMPH must lose her female friend,
  If more admired than she;
But where will fierce contention end,
  If Flowers can disagree?
Within the garden’s peaceful scene         5
  Appeared two lovely foes,
Aspiring to the rank of Queen—
  The Lily and the Rose.
The Rose soon reddened into rage;
  And, swelling with disdain,         10
Appealed to many a Poet’s Page,
  To prove her right to reign.
The Lily’s height bespoke command;
  A fair imperial flower,
She seemed designed for Flora’s hand,         15
  The sceptre of her power!
This civil bick’ring and debate
  The Goddess chanced to hear;
And flew to save, ere yet too late,
  The pride of the parterre!         20
‘Yours is,’ she said, ‘the noblest hue;
  And yours, the statelier mien;
And, till a third surpasses you,
  Let each be deemed a Queen!’
Thus soothed and reconciled, each seeks         25
  The fairest British Fair;
The seat of empire is her cheeks,
  They reign united there.
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